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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 22, 2005

Jewelry burglar sought

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Police are still searching for the man who burglarized Northeastern Fine Jewelry last week.

While police have shown video footage of possible suspects on local television news stations, no one has come forward with information, said Guilderland’s Senior Investigator John Tashjian.

Police say that, at 7:40 p.m. last Wednesday, a man "forcibly entered" the store, at 1575 Western Ave., and stole merchandise.

The burglar pried open the outer door to the store, which was closed at the time, and then smashed the inner door "with some type of object," Tashjian said.

Police responded within two minutes of receiving a security alarm from Northeastern Fine Jewelry, Tashjian said. But, he said, there was a delay from the time the burglary occurred to the time police received the alarm. It had something to do with the alarm company, which may have been out of state, Tashjian said.

An undetermined amount of jewelry was taken from display cases, he said.

In reviewing the store’s security camera, police found footage of a man walking past the entrance to the store about an hour before the burglary happened. Police are treating him as a witness, Tashjian said, and are asking that he come forward for questioning.

Police also saw the burglar on the videotape, Tashjian said, and he looks much like the witness, but is wearing different clothes.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Guilderland Police at 356-1501.

Town board stringent, Sherwin rallies for raises

By Nicole Fay Barr

GUILDERLAND — Town board members are struggling, as they often have in recent years while building the town’s budget, with wanting to give good workers substantial raises and wanting to save taxpayers money.

Last year’s budget was $17 million for a town with roughly 34,000 residents. For several years, there have been no town tax increases.

At the town’s first budget workshop last Thursday, all but one member on the all-Democrat board seemed to agree with Supervisor Kenneth Runion’s philosophy of keeping spending down.

Although Councilman Bruce Sherwin rallied for the town assessor and others to get more money, the board felt pressured by rising insurance and fuel costs.

Sherwin was not backed by the Democratic party and so is not running for re-election this year. He joked that he would take a pay cut next year so that others could get raises.

Democrat Paul Pastore, who is running with incumbent Patricia Slavick, for town board, and Mike Donegan, one of their Republican challengers, sat in on the public meeting.

A final workshop will be held tonight (Thursday) at Town Hall. Then, the highway budget will be discussed, as well as budgets proposed by the town clerk and receiver of taxes for their departments.

The tax rate will then be calculated before a final budget is prepared for vote.

Assessment office

This year was big for Assessor Carol Wysomski. Guilderland completed a town-wide reassessment of property, where the value of the average home increased about 40 percent.

The town does reassessment every few years, Wysomski explained earlier, because, without it, as newcomers move to a town, they pay taxes based on the price they paid for their property while parcels that haven’t sold recently usually remain at a lower rate, skewing the tax rolls.

This year, however, residents were alarmed at the rate of increase to their assessments. Hundreds, many angry, contested their assessments.

At last Thursday’s workshop, Wysomski spoke of her hard work and cost savings to the town. Later, she asked for a raise.

Wysomski’s budget reflects a savings of several thousand dollars.

The secretary to the board of assessment review has been replaced this year with two tape recorders, she said, saving the town $800.

The cost of supplies and gas mileage won’t be as high next year, Wysomski said. It was $9,500 this year, because of revaluation, but will be $4,000 next year.

In the assessor’s budget, the cost of computers and software has increased from $3,000 this year to $6,500 for next year. This cost is so the assessment office can have its own website, Wysomski said. Currently, the town’s website does not have enough space for the pictures and information the assessor has, she said.

"If you make this investment, it will free up the other server for the town," she said.

The town has also decided to set aside $5,000 for extra members of the board of assessment review. These members would be appointed temporarily, Runion said, and used if needed on Grievance Day.

"So, if we need to appoint five more people that day, we’ll have the money to cover that expense," Wysomski said.

This year, residents challenging their assessments had long waits at Town Hall on the state-set Grievance Day. Having more people available to listen to grievances would speed the process. The additional members would not be able to vote, but would listen and make recommendations for decision.

"This is our eighth reval and this time I had to do everything," Wysomski said.

This year, Wysomski said, she began producing her own assessment rolls, assessment change notices, street lists, and fire district labels. The state used to do this, she said, but stopped two years ago.

This work is an added burden to her, Wysomski said, but it saves the town $6,500.

"We’re the only town in the tri-city area that does revals in-house," Wysomski said. Most other towns, she said, hire outside contractors to do the work.

Wysomski told the board that her job is as important as the senior planner, who earns $66,900; the parks director, who earns $73,300; and the water superintendent, who earns $72,000.

Working for the town for 34 years, Wysomski said, she feels she’s entitled to a comparable salary.

"I’ve never really asked for a raise," Wysomski told the board. "I thought I’d give it a shot."

While Wysomski requested her salary for next year be $65,000, Runion recommended it be $58,494 or a 3-percent increase from her current salary.

"That’s a big difference," Councilman Sherwin said.

The three percent, Runion said, "is normal across the board. You know my conservative approach."

"It doesn’t hurt to ask," Wysomski said.

This is why he encouraged her to come to the budget workshop, Runion said. While he doesn’t recommend more than a 3-percent raise, he said, it’s up to the town board.

Many employees come to him asking for higher raises, Runion said. They compare their salaries to town workers in Colonie or Bethlehem, he said. But, he said, across the board, Guilderland’s salaries are lower than those towns.

"This town has always been more fiscally conservative than other towns," Runion said.

Town workers who belong to unions — such as police officers, paramedics, and civil service employees — usually get a 4-percent raise, he said.

But, Runion said at the first workshop, perhaps if the budget looks good and has no tax increases, some non-union employees who are falling behind in salary should be given 4 percent.

He suggested later in the workshop that Dr. Don Doynow, Guilderland’s director of emergency medical services, receive a 4-percent increase. Since Doynow is not in a union, his salary was falling behind similar department heads, Runion said.

The board agreed; Doynow will receive $49,920 next year.

Sherwin still rallied for Wysomski to get a higher raise.

"She’s done such a wonderful job for the town," he said. "On merit alone, she deserves more."

Wysomski’s proposed budget for her office was $262,022, including a larger raise; without that, in Runion’s proposal, the department would receive $255,516.

Sherwin went on that Wysomski’s job is important to the town. Wysomski generates tax revenue for the town, he said.

"I don’t know how she generates revenue," Runion said.

"I’m increasing the tax base," Wysomski said.

"Other taxing entities may use assessments to make revenue, but we don’t," Runion said.

It is still important for Wysomski to be accurate and not make mistakes, Sherwin said.

This is true, Runion said. But, he said, it is a misstatement to say that the assessor generates revenue for the town. With revaluation, he said, Wysomski is making sure that taxpayers pay an equal share.

"We get enough misconceptions from residents, we shouldn’t with board members," Runion said.

"It’s not like we don’t get any tax revenue either," Sherwin said.

"Carol makes sure the allocation is equal and fair among the town," Runion said.

Councilman David Bosworth then said he applauds Wysomski for bringing the board a budget that has cost savings. Many employees don’t do that, but ask for a raise anyway, he said.

Wysomski thanked the board for its time and left, with a 3-percent raise.

Other salary changes

Almost every year, the chief court clerk, Becky Letko, comes to the annual budget workshops and asks for a raise above the 3 percent. Guilderland has the third largest court caseload in Albany County, she’s said before, but workers’ salaries aren’t comparable to other towns.

She did not come to this year’s workshop, however.

This year, Runion decided to adjust Letko’s salary. She, and co-court clerk Eileen Dean, will now be paid for five additional hours of work per week.

Before, Runion said, the clerks were paid for 35 hours a week and, when they worked longer, were allowed to bank those extra hours.

"Both accumulated several hundred hours of comp time which scares me," Runion said. If the clerks wanted to cash all those hours in now, the town would have to pay them their current hourly rate, he said.

So, next year, Letko will receive $45,709 and Dean will earn $39,092; this is an 18-percent increase to their current salaries.
"It’s better to pay it as we go than to someday have to bite the bullet," Runion told the board. "That could ruin a budget."

Although senior-citizens coordinator Cindy Wadach didn’t ask for a raise above the 3 percent, Sherwin requested that she get one.

"She does an incredibly good job and she never asks for more," he said.

"She does do a good job," Runion said. "She says every day that she’d work here for free, she loves her job so much."

Bosworth requested that Wadach’s raise be added to an end-of-budget review list. The senior citizens’ program has improved 100-percent under her leadership, he said.

"We do have a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers," Runion said. "Because I’m here every day and, when you start to move salaries around, you have three other people pounding on your door."

"Our job is to advocate for the good people," Sherwin said of himself and other town board members.

Runion said that the town board can overrule his initial recommendations. But, he said, union members use these extra raises to make their pitches.

Wadach and Wysomski are outstanding people who save the town money and make people happy, Sherwin said.

"You don’t know what it’s like," Runion said.

"We can find other places to cut," Bosworth said.

Later, Runion said, "I have to admit, Cindy [Wadach] is a department head that advocates for her employees all the time."

Her salary will be further discussed tonight.

Guilderland Animal Hospital — Open house celebrates 50th anniversary

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Visitors Saturday at the Guilderland Animal Hospital open house will be able to look back at the past, tour the present, and glimpse the future.

"We’ll have one room with memorabilia of the hospital — old pictures and old equipment from large-animal treatment," said Bonnie Selke, a veterinary technician.

"There will be biographical information on staff members," she said.

Selke, herself, has worked at the hospital for over 17 years.

"I like the variety of things you do during the day," she said. "You get to see different pets and meet different people."

Staff members have taken responsibility for various open-house display areas, Selke said. Hers is the laboratory.

She will have on display "different types of worms and parasites — disgusting things," she said with a laugh. Selke hopes, for example, to have an ear mite under a microscope for visitors to gaze at.

Visitors may also look at the ultrasound room where pets have their internal organs surveyed to scan for diseases or lumps.

A display in the operating room will have a stuffed animal, probably a dog, hooked up with a drape on it "to simulate what a pet would look like in surgery," said Selke.

Visitors may also see the dental area where teeth are cleaned and sometimes extracted.

Pets are put under anesthesia to have tartar that has built up on their teeth removed with a hand scaler or an ultrasonic scaler, Selke said.

Some come in as often as once every six months for the cleaning while, for others, once in a lifetime is enough, she said.

"We encourage brushing with dog toothpaste," she said. "Dogs don’t know enough to spit it out," she said, explaining why digestible dog toothpaste is needed.

Representatives from the Guilderland Animal Shelter will be on hand Saturday with animals up for adoption. There will be a drawing to benefit the shelter, which is being expanded and renovated.

Bill Pentak, a member of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, will give demonstrations with Mac, his trained police dog; he will also talk to visitors and answer questions, said Selke.

The House Rabbit Society will be at the open house, too. "They rescue rabbits, spay and neuter them, and find homes for them," said Selke. "They’re into public education."

Cathy Crawmer, who trains dogs, cats, ferrets, and birds, will also be on hand to answer questions and dispense information.

"And one of our clients, Naomi Wickane, will bring in hedgehogs; she does hedgehog rescue," said Selke.

Free pet-identification tags will be available, and each family who visits can take home a free goody bag for their dog or cat.

"We’ll have helium balloons and face-painting for the kids," concluded Selke, "and someone will be wearing a giant dog costume."

Casler’s calling leads to curing animals

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Animals may not have changed much in the last half-century, but people’s relationships with them have.

"Dogs and cats have gone from the woodshed or barn to the house and to the bedroom," said Michael Casler, a doctor of veterinary medicine at the Guilderland Animal Hospital. "They are now considered a part of the household."

The fact that over 70 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be family members is reflected in veterinary services, Casler said.

The Guilderland Animal Hospital is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week with an open house. A tour of the Western Turnpike facility reveals high-tech equipment for ultrasounds and x-rays done on site, a laboratory for blood analysis, a well-stocked pharmacy, spotless examining rooms and stainless-steel kennels, and a state-of-the-art operating room complete with laser equipment.

"You can take the skin off a tomato with this and not affect the inside," said Casler, gesturing to a laser surgical unit.

Casler, who is chief of surgery at the animal hospital, said laser surgery causes less blood loss than traditional surgery and, since nerve endings are sealed at the same time, it causes less pain.

A castrated dog can leave without pain, he said, and a de-clawed cat can walk when it wakes up from the anesthesia.

As a visitor takes in the operating table — with large overhead lights and a nearby intravenous pump — and murmurs that it looks like a hospital, Casler answers crisply, "It is a hospital."

He is proud that the practice is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, which periodically does evaluations, judging compliance with over 800 standards.

"It means we’re considered the cream of the crop," said Casler. "It sets us apart."

The facility has "tele-medicine capability," said Casler, explaining that information from ultrasounds or X-rays, for example, can be transmitted to specialists throughout the country.

Dogs and cats suffering from cancer are treated with chemotherapy at the animal hospital; 20 or 30 are currently in treatment, Casler said.

"One dog has been going one-and-a-half years with lymphoma and just went out of remission," he said. "We just put it back in remission."

The facility also has stations for full-service dentistry and it has a crematorium.

"This is where they all end up sooner or later," said Casler. He said about half the pet owners want to take the ashes home.

"A calling"

The practice, which was founded by Jack Brennan in 1955, has expanded from having one veterinarian to six. Casler, who has been with the practice 36 years, is a partner with Mark Caravaty. The associate veterinarians are Melodee Kopa, Virginia Jarvis, Amy Scarpinato, and Tara Estra.

"All of our vets are Cornell graduates here," said Casler.

He will be presiding over a white-coat ceremony at the prestigious veterinary school in December, which he said is as important as graduation; veterinary students gain a mentor as well as a white coat.

"Veterinary medicine is a calling," said Casler. "Most are not in it for the money and most know from a very young age that is what they want."

Casler, himself, was interested since he was a child. He grew up on a dairy farm in Fort Plain, N.Y.

"I was always intrigued when the veterinarian came — the knowledge he had, carrying his black bag like a Pandora’s box....

"It was always a mystery. ‘How does he know what’s wrong with the cow"’" Casler recalled wondering.

He liked science and went into a pre-veterinary program at Cornell.

Casler has stayed with it all these years because, he said, he keeps feeling satisfaction in his work.

"Every day is different," he said and there are always new challenges and rewards.

The animals, he said, are never a problem, but sometimes the clients can be. "It’s a people profession, a service profession," he said. "Those who don’t like people shouldn’t pursue it; they should do research or something like that."

When Casler goes home from a long day of work — office hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. — he returns to three cats, two Cairn terriers, and a golden retriever.

"A real doctor"

The Guilderland Animal Hospital has a support staff of 40, which includes veterinary technicians, receptionists, an office manager, a bookkeeper, and animal-care specialists, "who used to be called kennel people," said Casler. "You have to be politically correct."

The current facility was built in 1964 — not far from the original hospital — and has been added to and remodeled several times.

While the operating room, for example, looks sterile, the waiting room has a homey appeal. A 1959 Norman Rockwell print of a young veterinarian tending to a boy and his dog is signed by the vet who modeled for the picture — Bud Edgerton.

The facility’s garage, once used for large animals, is now filled with shelves, row upon row, stocked with bagged pet food.

The practice serves 20,000 to 30,000 animals — mostly from Guilderland, but also from the Hilltowns, Schenectady, and Albany, Casler said.

The practice was originally 60 percent small animals and 40 percent large animals — cows and horses.

It is now 100-percent companion animals, mostly cats and dogs but some exotics as well, said Casler. There’s an occasional iguana or other reptile; there are pigs and rabbits; and there are pocket pets like hamsters and mice; pet hedgehogs will make an appearance at the open house.

"When I started here, the practice was more agriculture oriented," said Casler. "Pets were considered more a commodity. If a dog got sick, you put it to sleep and got another one."

Now, he said, a client’s philosophy is frequently, "We want to do everything we can for this dog."

Casler said, "That puts pressure on the veterinarian to do everything they can." Animals can be sent to specialists, for example.

"Everything can be done to a dog or cat that can be done to a human," he said. But, he said, in veterinary medicine, "We don’t have health insurance or HMO’s." The costs can be hefty.

Casler went on, "There are different ways to do things — Cadillac treatment or conservative...It’s still the client’s choice."

He explained that veterinarians have a "client," that is, the pet-owner — and a "patient" — the pet; a veterinarian has to treat both.

"A real doctor," Casler quipped, "is a doctor that treats more than one species."

School district aids groups — Plethora of projects to help hurricane survivors

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is being answered with a ground swell of fund-raisers and contributions.

Local schools, intent on instilling in their students values such as caring and helping others, are part of the ground swell of support.

"Our community has always been very generous," said Gregory Aidala, superintendent of the Guilderland schools.

He said various fund-raisers had netted over $13,000 for tsunami relief during the last school year and then he reeled off a list of current programs underway to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Guilderland Elementary School, he said, is holding bake sales to raise funds; at Farnsworth Middle School, students in an Animal Protection Society have organized a drive to help pets displaced by the hurricane; Westmere Elementary School is "adopting" a Gulf Coast school; and proceeds from a faculty concert will go to the Red Cross for hurricane relief.

One mother is upset, though, by what she sees as a lack of support from the district. Rose Levy started a campaign to send "gently used children’s books" to the Gulf Coast and wanted to send notice of the campaign home from school with Guilderland students.

Levy wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor this week complaining that Aidala had not allowed her to do so.

"I have five kids," Levy told The Enterprise on Monday. "I have a couple of bags of books I usually send to Albany." She mentioned the idea of sending the books instead to children hurt by the hurricane and her children "thought it was great," she said.

She calls the campaign "Operation Lend a Hand, Send a Book."

In her letter, Levy chastises Aidala and also the acting high-school principal for not allowing the flyers to be distributed through the schools.

When The Enterprise asked Aidala about the matter, he referred to a policy the school board adopted in November of 2004 on the distribution of "backpack mail," the flyers that students bring home from school in their backpacks.

"With the advanced approval from the superintendent of schools or designee," the policy states, "information concerning activities, events, programs and other opportunities of interest to children and their families...may be distributed to students provided that the activity, event, program or opportunity is conducted or sponsored by an agency of federal, state or local government, or by a not-for-profit group that can furnish documentation as a nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service."

Aidala stressed, "Our policy on backpack mail says it has to be an organization or agency, not an individual."

Regulations that supplement the policy outline the steps an organization must take; all requests are to be submitted to the superintendent’s office for approval a week before the distribution date.

School principals do not make the decision, said Aidala; he does. "Harry Truman would be proud," he said in reference to the President’s famed desk sign, stating, "The buck stops here."

Aidala added of Levy’s proposal, "We’re not saying it can’t be done. It just needs to be coordinated with a group, like the PTA....We applaud these types of efforts in the community, but there needs to be an organized plan or approach.

He said, for example, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) is serving as "a clearinghouse for used textbooks and equipment" from local districts that want to donate to the relief effort.

Aidala concluded, "As a school district, we’re more than willing to work with the community. That’s why we allow backpack mail in the first place...Our students and families will be involved in many different fund-raisers in the months ahead."

"Send a Book"

Levy told The Enterprise on Monday she was unaware a policy on backpack mail existed.

She has not let the district’s refusal stymie her efforts, though.

"It’s taken off like you wouldn’t believe," Levy said. Other families and then organizations joined in. "We have been going to the neighborhoods directly, our children on their bikes and scooters, handing out the flyers," she wrote. "Private schools, sports groups, churches, businesses, have gotten involved."

As of Monday, over 4,600 used books had been collected and Levy expects to double that number.

She said that donations from the Postal Carriers Union, from a private shipping company, and from individuals will help pay for shipping the books.

She looked on-line to find places to ship the books; they will go to shelters and schools, some of which lost their entire libraries, she said.

Kids have been volunteering their time, collecting and sorting books, at a storefront on Western Avenue.

"I’m a lover of books," concluded Levy. "My kids love books. We have a houseful. The idea is to give every child a book, something to call their own, something that will give them an escape from what they've gone through."

School projects

The campaign at Farnsworth Middle School to help abandoned and displaced pets got underway Sept. 14 when students in the school’s Guilderland Animal Protection Society asked others to bring in photographs of their pets from home.

Several teachers donned dog costumes, donated by Capital Costumes, to greet morning buses and to urge students to "help my friends," said a release from the district.

For a dollar donation, the pictures were displayed on a centrally-located school bulletin board. Over $200 were raised in the first two days.

All of the money is being sent to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

At Westmere Elementary School, Aidala said, a "Giving Tree" bulletin board in the front lobby displays a photo of Bakerfield Elementary School, adopted by Westmere Elementary.

Bakerfield Elementary is located in Baker, Louisiana, about 90 miles outside of New Orleans.

"The principal of Bakerfield, Mr. Cook, informed us that, since the hurricane, their school district has enrolled 700 new students displaced as a result of the tragedy," the Westmere Student Council wrote in a letter home to parents. "We asked him how we could help and he sent us a list of all the items that these students need."

The items, ranging from crayons to uniforms, are listed on the leaves of the Giving Tree and, once donated, will be shipped to Bakerfield elementary

"Westmere is so excited to be ‘adopting’ this school that so desperately needs our help," wrote the Westmere Student Council.

New uses for an old supermarket

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The empty Price Chopper building on Western Avenue may soon have new occupants.

The planning board last Wednesday approved a site plan to allow George Amedore, of Amedore Homes, to refurbish the building as office space. The Amedore Homes office sits across the street from the former grocery store, which is also across from Robinson’s Hardware and Cumberland Farms.

Engineer Daniel Hershberg told the board that Amedore also proposes to build a free-standing bank in the parking lot.

"We add the bank" to make the project affordable, Hershberg said. Without the extra income from a bank rental, he said, the cost to refurbish the grocery store would be too high.

Hershberg said that no particular bank has been named, and that Amedore is shopping for tenants.

The plan calls for improvements to the site.

"The entrance is overly wide," Hershberg said. He said that the project will narrow the entrance and add sidewalks.

The site has more than 220 parking spaces, but that may not be adequate for the projected 80 employees and visitors.

"Certainly, it’s an improvement on the site," said planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney.

Board member Paul Caputo suggested that a Dumpster planned for the center of the site be moved.

"You’ve done a good job with this plan," Caputo said.

With its approval, the board asked that: the existing parking lot islands be extended to control traffic; water-quality controls be examined at the existing catch basins; the amount and location of asphalt removal be identified; intended plantings and their heights be specified; pedestrian connections to the bank be considered; and an alternative to the "unmovable" 12-inch curb proposed on the site be studied.

The planning board suggested that the town’s zoning board review changes of tenancy in the building to keep parking at manageable levels. The project needs final approval from the zoning board.

Recycling for recyclables

Last Wednesday, the planning board also approved a plan by Metro WastePaper Recovery to use an existing 192,000-square-foot building at the Northeastern Industrial Park, in Guilderland Center.

Thomas Bourne, a representative for the recycling business, said that Metro WastePaper Recovery handles residential waste brought in by existing haulers rather than individuals.

"We are not a garbage collector," Bourne said.

He said that fiber will be sorted and bailed in Guilderland, but that recyclable cans may be sent to a different facility.

"We have a very sophisticated system in Rochester," Bourne said. He said that, if a lot of materials are brought there, the company may put similar machinery in the Guilderland plant.

The plant may have up to 30 trucks entering and exiting daily, he said.

Bourne said that the building does not have interior floor drains. He said that any liquids from materials brought in will be swept up after a drying agent is applied, but that more liquid is tracked in from rain or snow than is accumulated from dirty recyclables.

The town has been waiting several years for the industrial park to submit its environmental impact study. Its leverage for getting the study was placing a hold on any further permits from the zoning board.

The hold, however, was only on new buildings at the industrial park, Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise earlier.

This summer, the industrial park submitted a draft of its environmental impact study to the board. It has not yet been approved.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Tabled a plan review of the construction of a 9,600 square-foot church by Marantha Ministries. The proposed site has 9.5 acres, at 2787 Curry Road. The plan calls for the church, proposed as a large metal building, to be built near the property line, adjacent to a neighboring house.

"It’s right on top of them," said board member Thomas Robert. The property is zoned residential.

Minister Richard Frank said that the proposed location of the church would allow room for a parsonage to be built on the site.

Engineer Harold Berger said that the proposed water use for the church is 800 to 900 gallons per day. Area homes have shallow wells, he said.

The board told Frank to submit a revision, if he is willing to move the building; an elevation drawing, if he is not; and a rendering of the building; and

— Heard a concept presentation of a three-lot subdivision of 14.4 acres on Brookview Drive, which has been designated for partial protection by the Albany Pine Bush Commission.

Todd Westerveld, of ABD Engineers and Surveyors, said that each lot would be about five acres. Two of the lots would share a driveway, he said. All are wooded lots, and portions have small tributaries, he said. The development will be on top of the flat areas, he said.

"We are very restricted on these lots" because of the angle of repose and the required setbacks, Westerveld said. "We don’t have any plans to dedicate any lands over," he said.

Planning board approves village water plan

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The planning board last Wednesday approved a controversial plan by the village of Altamont to allow a municipal water supply system on a site the village wants to purchase from Michael and Nancy Trumpler.

The water-strapped village had drilled and found water on Brandle Road, outside of Altamont, on land owned by the Trumplers. Although the Trumplers signed a contract last year agreeing to sell about five acres, with the wells, to the village, they have since asked a judge to decide if the contract is legal and binding.

"The land issues, as far as we are concerned, are not resolved," said Nancy Trumpler. She distributed and read a letter from her attorney, Michael Englert. The Trumplers "do not agree or consent to the conveyance of property," she read.

The project has yet to be approved by the town’s zoning board.

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney last week read from a report by Spectra Engineering that no significant effect would be seen on the nearest residential well, if the water levels are monitored after seven hours of pumping.

Richard Straut, who represented the village to the planning board, said that seven hours of pumping, followed by seven hours off, is a typical operation. He said that the village may pump for seven hours from the new well, and then switch to a second pump elsewhere in the village for 14 to 21 hours.

Christine Capuano, whose well is the nearest to the proposed pump, said that she and some of her neighbors are concerned about the proposal.

Capuano is Nancy Trumpler’s sister-in-law and has bought land on Brandle Road, near the wells.

"We would like to have more information, and a baseline of what wells in the area are producing," Capuano said. "They can monitor it, but if they do get down, what then""

Feeney said that the Spectra Engineering report stated that monitoring would be done.

"We finally do have a report from the [town-designated engineer] hydrogeologist who came up with recommendations. The village has offered municipal water," he said. "I’m not a hydrogeologist. We don’t have a hydrogeologist on the board"We have to rely on experts."

Troubled history

Earlier this summer, Brandle Road residents had questions about the project and expressed concerns at a zoning board meeting

Some said, since the village has done exploratory drilling, they’ve had problems with dirty water.

The zoning board then hired a town-designated engineer to study the effects that new village wells have on the quality and quantity of neighbors’ wells.

What complicates matters is that the village is part of a lawsuit triangle over the issue. The zoning board can’t approve anything until these issues are settled, Chairman Bryan Clenahan said at the time.

A few months after the Trumplers signed a contract to sell their land to the village, the Guilderland Town Board re-zoned land on Brandle Road, just outside the village, for Jeff Thomas to build a senior housing complex; the village promised Thomas water then, even though it had a moratorium on granting water outside village limits.

The Trumplers were upset because earlier they had to scale back plans for a place for Nancy Trumpler’s elderly mother to live because of town zoning. They also said they had been told that their well would be used only for water in the village, and they raised procedural concerns.

After the Trumplers filed papers in March in Albany County Supreme Court — they sought no money, just a ruling on if the contract was legal and binding — the village responded by filing counterclaims, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, against the Trumplers.

In June, Thomas sued the Trumplers for $17 million, over what he called the "interference" with his plans to build a senior-housing project.

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